Who ARE you? [Or, We Rarely Get the Dog We Think We Are Getting.]


“They SAID he was home educated!”

“She mentioned he cherished EVERYBODY!”

“He was FINE at my home! What did the brand new homeowners do to him?

Each coach and behaviorist who does consults hears these phrases frequently. In regards to the “home educated” spaniel who pees on the rug, the “all people loving” Border collie who’s petrified of strangers, the Boxer who cherished his crate on the foster house, however bark/screamed each time his new homeowners left the home. Understandably, new homeowners are disenchanted when their new canine behaves vastly in a different way than described by the foster house. Fosters and shelters typically specific frustration when instructed of conduct issues, and exclaim: “However he by no means did that right here! These new homeowners simply don’t know what they’re doing!”

However the reality is, Fido in a single place will not be essentially predictive of Fido in one other. Context and the surroundings performs as massive a job in canine conduct because it does in yours. Most likely greater. However let’s begin with us: Are you an identical particular person throughout an intense assembly at work as you might be when having drinks with buddies, just some hours later? [Full disclosure: I am not.]

As a result of surroundings performs such a big position within the conduct of all mammals, each canine conduct marketing consultant I do know hears about canines who behave a method on the shelter or foster house, and really in a different way as soon as adopted. In fact, there are many canines who’re context proof–the goofy retriever-type who actually does love everybody, doesn’t care the place they reside, and are positive being left alone. However there are simply as many, who, for instance, depart a foster house the place they appear relaxed and pleasant to all, who grow to be fearful and typically aggressive when positioned in what seems to be like a fantastic house.

The 2 commonest points I’ve seen through the years associated to adjustments in context are home coaching and canine’s who depart areas with a number of canines and grow to be the one one in the home.

Home coaching is the straightforward one. (Observe: Easy doesn’t essentially equal straightforward.) Simply because a canine has discovered to not potty in a single place doesn’t imply that they generalize this data to a different house. I doubt our youngsters are any totally different: Absolutely they should study to not use “exterior voices” on the neighbor’s  home in addition to in their very own. If I used to be sending a canine off and requested in the event that they have been home educated, I’d say “Not in your own home, they’re not.” Really, I wouldn’t wait to be requested, I simply inform everybody to imagine that no canine is “constructing educated” till they’ve tons and plenty of expertise on the contrary underneath their belt. Or their collar. You get my drift.

That is very true of canines who weren’t home educated at an early age. We obtained Skip when he was three, and as finest I can inform, he lived in crates or a barn his total life as much as that time. I belief him 99.99% now at our home (100% if we’re positive he’s pooped proper earlier than we go to mattress), and 100% on the vet clinic. However I nonetheless watch him each second if we’re staying at a motel. He hasn’t tried to carry a leg inside for 2 years, however . . .

Canines home educated at an early age can normally be educated simply sufficient in a brand new home IF the brand new homeowners begin off as if the canine was a pet. (See Love Has No Age Restrict for extra on this.) The hot button is to grasp that there’s no purpose a canine’s mind would perceive that “home coaching” means greater than “solely go exterior the place I reside,” versus “by no means go inside wherever.”

Much more sophisticated are the canines who’ve been residing with a number of canines for years, however find yourself as a single canine in a brand new house. This may be tough, as a result of it’s not possible to know the way a canine goes to react to such a giant change. Let me begin by asking you to think about that you just’ve been residing on Mars for a couple of years. The Martians are in cost, and appear benevolent and sort. Nonetheless, they’re Martians, not Earthlings. Fortunately, you reside with a number of different Earthlings, who occur to talk the identical language as you. All is nicely, as a result of, though you’re on an alien planet, you continue to spend time with people who converse the identical language and perceive the way you assume. However abruptly, with no time to organize, you might be taken to a different place, the place there are not any Earthlings.

It’s a pleasant place, and the Martians there couldn’t be kinder. You get all the nice meals and a spotlight you may ever want. Nonetheless. You’re alone. No less than, in some methods it should really feel like that, proper? You’ve misplaced your mates, those who perceive you, and who you perceive with out having to work at it. I’m unsure it even issues if these others have been shut buddies; simply being there should have made a giant distinction.

That is my speculation of why shelters, fosters, trainers and consultants see so many “However he NEVER . . . ” instances. (I feel I’m going to coin a brand new diagnostic right here: The “buthenever syndrome.”) All environmental adjustments are disturbing, even ones during which the canine’s life is significantly enhanced. It’s nonetheless a change. However nothing like having your Earthling equivalents disappearing, and being by yourself in Mars.

No marvel we see so many canines with Separation Anxiousness who have been positive within the foster house when surrounded by six different canines, however not when left utterly alone. Or canines who’re fearful of holiday makers at their new place after they’d by no means met a stranger after they lived in a kennel. I don’t need to overstate this–many behavioral predispositions might be simply seen in all environments, though they may maybe be exaggerated as soon as despatched to a brand new house. But it surely does clarify a lot of why some canines seem to behave so very in a different way from a shelter or foster setting and are positioned as a single canine in a brand new house.

So. What to do? First, it’s essential to get our expectations in line–it’s very tough to know the way canines are going to reply after going from a canine pack to a human-only household. I simply talked to some good buddies with a brand new canine, suggesting that they consider the primary weeks as an journey and an experiment. Who is aware of how Georgie will behave after the primary days or perhaps weeks of shock begin to fade away? If he’s shy, will he specific that as protection and again away from guests till he relaxes, or will he go after them–weapons blazing–utilizing offense to guard himself? Will Snowflake be okay for a lot of the day whilst you’re gone to work, if the home is an unlimited, empty cage after you allow? We simply can’t know till a while has passed by; in the meantime, our job is to assist the canine as finest we are able to and study who she or he is on this new surroundings.

            Our canines live with extra-terrestrials . . . We have to be so complicated.

Secondly, I’d prefer to counsel that canines coming from a multiple-dog scenario right into a single canine house be given much more time to regulate. I suppose this goes again to expectations–and understanding what an enormous shock it have to be to go from one surroundings to a different. (See The Stress Consider Canines concerning the profound and prolonged impact that stress has on physiology and conduct.)  I like that many shelters and fosters counsel protecting issues extraordinarily low-key for a number of days after canines first arrive. For canines from multiple-dog properties, I’d like to see canines left house alone to be surrounded by acquainted scents, and left in cozy, safe-feeling areas for actually just some seconds initially. I personally take the identical perspective with separation nervousness as I do with home coaching when a canine involves a brand new house–Job One is to forestall hassle, beginning on Day One. (See I’ll Be Residence Quickly about stopping Separation Anxiousness.)

I’ve no analysis to assist my speculation that canines coming from multiple-dog households/amenities typically discover it a bit tougher to regulate than different canines do. It’s simply the sturdy impression I’ve gotten after 30+ years of working with behavioral issues. (Query: Wouldn’t this be a fantastic matter for a thesis? Reply: Yeah!!!) I put this out to you then, curious what your expertise has been. Have you considered whether or not your canine got here from a spot with different canines, or a single-family, all-human house? What’s been your expertise if canines come from a pack and grow to be the one canine?

As I write, I notice I’m burying the lead right here: Principally, I’m arguing that one of many largest adjustments in a canine’s surroundings, from one place to a different, is whether or not there are different canines there or not. Soar in right here–we’d love to listen to from you.

MEANWHILE, again on the farm: Some extra images from Arizona, together with this shot Jim took of me and the view, whereas strolling round Windy Level Vista on the drive to Mt. Lemmon north of Tucson.


Two extra photographs of birds from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.  First, a Cactus Wren, flying free on the grounds. We noticed Cactus Wrens each the place, in Phoenix and Scottsdale. They’re massive for wrens, hanging to take a look at, and, typical of all wrens, busy, busy, busy.

Jim took this {photograph} of a Hooded Oriole inside the big aviary, such a fantastic shot!

Right here’s the view from the yard of the home rented by our expensive buddies. (Meg and Randy: We’re SO grateful!) I grew up all the time understanding what “. . .the purple mountains majesty . . . ” meant.

I’ll depart you with one thing extra present: Thanks King Arthur to your Swedish Almond Coffeecake combine. I get to fake it’s handmade cuz one has so as to add a number of issues, has to knead it and let it rise twice, so, it’s handmade, proper? Who cares whether it is or isn’t, as a result of it’s DELICIOUS.

Right here’s to scrumptious in your life too!

And leap in together with your ideas about canines from “packs” to single properties; I’m so curious what your expertise has been.






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